HC initiates PIL on frequent traffic jams due to protests

Division Bench says right to protest should not extend to affecting the rights of others

The High Court of Karnataka on Friday suo motu initiated a PIL petition on huge traffic jams caused due to frequent protests, demonstrations and rallies held on public roads in the heart of the city resulting in severe hardships to the citizens.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty passed the order while treating a letter, written on March 3 by Justice Aravind Kumar, one of the senior judges of the High Court, to the Chief Justice on hardship caused to public due to traffic jams caused from protests, as a PIL petition.

The letter referred to the reports published in a Kannada daily, Kannada Prabha, highlighting how public life was paralysed because of huge traffic jams caused during peak hours on March 2 in the city when workers of anganwadis and State public transport corporations staged protests and demonstrations.

Ease of living rank

While referring to the newspaper reports on Bengaluru being adjudged the most liveable large city in the country, as per the Ease of Living Index– 2020 released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Bench observed that it is all the more reason for the authorities to ensure traffic is not affected by such protests.

Observing that the right to protest peacefully is guaranteed to the citizens under the Constitution, the Bench, referring to the apex court’s judgments, said that the right to protest should not extend to affecting the rights of others.

Noticing that Bengaluru city has a dedicated place to hold protests and demonstrations at Freedom Park, the Bench pointed out the apex court’s judgement on devising a mechanism to regulate protests and demonstrations.

While pointing that there are many such instances of traffic jams, the Bench also took note of the fact that authorities concerned are facing huge challenges in managing morning and evening peak-hour traffic in the city.

The Bench directed the Registry to post the PIL for hearing by making the State government, the Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, and all the leading political parties as respondents to the petition.

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